With the football season over and the basketball team, once again, having no chance of contending for the Big Ten title, an NCAA berth or even an NIT berth, my school spirit, well, once again, has been turned to cheering for whoever is playing Michigan State in basketball.

Paul Wong
The SportsMonday Column<br><br>Raphael Goodstein

Ahh, the benefits of attending a school with great sports teams.

With this in mind, I couldn”t help but laugh when I saw SportsCenter show replays of Michigan State”s home loss to Wisconsin this weekend. Actually it was the jokes ESPN made about Michigan State being a party school that made me laugh. But watching Sparty lose the way it did certainly was cathartic.

Maybe even a bit amusing.

In case you missed it, Michigan State (now 0-3 in the Big Ten, 9-7 overall) found itself down by one point with two hundredths of a second left. By rule, only a tip-in is allowed if there are three hundredths seconds or less left on the clock.

Michigan State”s freshman guard Kelvin Torbert caught the ball off of an inbounds pass and then flipped the ball in, all before the .2 seconds went off. In fact believe it or not the clock didn”t even start when he caught the ball.

Since things like rules or laws don”t prevent Michigan State from celebrating, Michigan State”s student section cleverly named the “Izzone,” after coach Tom Izzo rushed the floor to celebrate its big win.

Some things never change. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger making lousy movies, NYPD overcharging for pizza and Michigan State trying to use shoddy timekeeping to steal a win.

Fortunately for Wisconsin, this is basketball and not football.

Coach Bo Ryan injected a little reason into the situation, and, lucky for him, he got what he, shall we say, deserved.

The students were herded off the floor, much to their chagrin, and logic and reason were restored, once again, much to their chagrin.

The loss was especially tough for Michigan State, as it snapped the Spartans” 53-game home winning streak, a stretch which started in March of 1998.

More importantly, the loss means Michigan State finds itself in peril of not even making the NCAA Tournament.

After a few years of success, the nouveau riche Spartans boasted about their program, and declared that it would return to the NCAA Tournament and contend for its fifth straight Big Ten title.

But with its record, and its remaining schedule Michigan State still has to play its hardest games at Illinois, at Iowa, Indiana the Spartans are not guaranteed of even finishing conference play with a winning record.

Who would have ever thought four games into conference play, Michigan would be .500 and Michigan State would be in last place?

Certainly not Michigan State fans, who assumed that their basketball team would make it to the Sweet Sixteen, even though their team didn”t have Sweet Sixteen talent. In fact, it remains to be seen if this team has Sweet Sixty-five talent. Regardless, with Tom Izzo as the coach, Sparty fans assumed Michigan State was a shoe-in for the Tournament. Michigan State is one of basketball”s premier programs, right?

Well, probably not, and anyways every program has an off-year or four every once in a while just look at North Carolina.

Now most of you Michigan State fans out there are probably thinking, “Why”s this kid trying to spoil our party?” I”m not. I”m just rooting for Iowa, Indiana, Illinois and everyone else when they play Michigan State.

Go team! Go!

Raphael Goodstein can be reached at raphaelg@umich.edu.

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